US LGBTQ Rights Timeline 1903-Jan 2017

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US LGBTQ Rights Timeline 1903-2016 Civil Rights Timelines ™

New York police conducted the first US recorded raid on the Ariston Hotel Baths.
Individuals in the US are dismissed from government employment for their sexual orientation, commencing the Lavender scare.
Apr  – Homosexuality is listed as a sociopathic personality disturbance in the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual.
May 27  President  Eisenhower  signs Executive Order 10450 ordering heads of federal agencies and the Office of Personnel Management with investigating federal employees for “Any criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, habitual use of intoxicants to excess, drug addiction, or sexual perversion.” to determine whether they posed a threat to national security.
The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), the first lesbian organization in the US, is founded.
The US Supreme Court rules in favor of the First Amendment rights of a gay and lesbian magazine, marking the first time the US Supreme Court had ruled on a case involving homosexuality.
Illinois becomes first U.S. state to remove sodomy law from its criminal code (effective 1962).
Jul 4 Conservatively dressed gays and lesbians demonstrate outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This was the first in a series of Annual Reminders that took place through 1969.
The Mattachine Society stages a “Sip-In” at Julius Bar in New York City challenging a New York State Liquor Authority prohibiting serving alcohol to gays, The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot occurred  by a transgender women and Vanguard members in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.
The Black Cat Tavern in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles is raided on New Year’s day by 12 plainclothes police officers who beat and arrested employees and patrons sparks civil rights activism..
Jun 28 The Stonewall riots a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the gay community after a police raid that took place in the early morning hours at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City; they are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the US, The “Los Angeles Advocate,” founded and is renamed “The Advocate.” It is considered the oldest continuing LGBT publication and began as a newsletter published by the activist group Personal Rights in Defense and Education (PRIDE).
Jun 28 The first Gay Liberation Day March is held in New York City, The first LGBT Pride Parade is held in New York, The first “Gay-in” held in San Francisco.
Colorado and Oregon repeal sodomy laws, Idaho repeals the sodomy law — Then re-instates the repealed sodomy law because of outrage among Mormons and Catholics.
Hawaii legalizes homosexuality, East Lansing, Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan and San Francisco, California become the first cities in US to pass a homosexual rights ordinance, Jim Foster, San Francisco and Madeline Davis, Buffalo, New York, first gay and lesbian delegates to the Democratic Convention, Miami, McGovern; give the first speeches advocating a gay rights plank in the Democratic Party Platform.
The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II), based largely on the research and advocacy of Evelyn Hooker, Lambda Legal becomes the first legal organization established to fight for the equal rights of gays and lesbians. Lambda also becomes their own first client after being denied non-profit status, the New York Supreme Court eventually rules that Lambda Legal can exist as a non-profit.
Ohio repeals sodomy laws. Kathy Kozachenko becomes the first openly LGBT American elected to any public office when she wins a seat on the Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council, Elaine Noble is the first openly gay candidate elected to a state office when she is elected to the Massachusetts State legislature.
Homosexuality is legalized in California due to the Consenting Adult Sex Bill, authored by and successfully lobbied for in the state legislature by State Assemblyman from San Francisco Willie Brown, Minneapolis becomes the first city in the US to pass trans-inclusive civil rights protection legislation, Technical Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich reveals his sexual orientation to his commanding officer and is forcibly discharged from the Air Force six months later; Matlovich is a Vietnam War veteran and was awarded both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star
Professional tennis player Renee Richards undergoes gender reassignment surgery
Jan 8, 1978 In 1977 Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors becoming the first openly gay man in the U.S. elected to public office, Dade County, Florida enacts a Human Rights Ordinance; it is repealed the same year after a militant anti-homosexual-rights campaign led by Anita Bryant, Police raid a house outside of Boston outraging the gay community.
San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone are assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White, The first Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is held, with 2000 people attending and 53 subsequently arrested and some seriously beaten by police. The rainbow flag is first used as a symbol of homosexual pride.
Oct 14 The first national homosexual rights march on Washington, DC is held, he White Night riots occur, Harry Hay issues the first call for a Radical Faerie gathering in Arizona, Stephen Lachs becomes the first openly gay judge appointed in the United States (Los Angeles County Superior Court)
Mary C. Morgan became the first openly gay or lesbian judge when she was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to the San Francisco Municipal Court
The US Democratic Party becomes the first major political party in the U.S. to endorse a homosexual rights platform plank. David McReynolds becomes the first openly LGBT individual to run for President of the United States, appearing on the Socialist Party U S A ticket.
The CDC used the term AIDS for the first time in September 1982, when it reported that an average of one to two cases of AIDS were being diagnosed in America every day, March 2 Wisconsin becomes the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Massachusetts Representative Gerry Studds reveals he is gay on the floor of the House, becoming the first openly gay member of Congress, Lambda Legal wins People v. West 12 Tenants Corp., the first HIV/AIDS discrimination lawsuit.
Berkeley, California becomes the first city in the U.S. to adopt a program of domestic partnership health benefits for city employees.
Bowers v. Hardwick case, U.S. Supreme Court upholds Georgia law ruling that the constitutional right to privacy does not extend to homosexual relations, but it does not state whether the law can be enforced against heterosexuals.
Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) founded in the US in response to the US government’s slow response in dealing with the AIDS crisis. ACT UP stages its first major demonstration, seventeen protesters are arrested, Boulder, CO citizens pass the first referendum to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. In New York City a group of Bisexual LGBT rights activist including Brenda Howard found the New York Area Bisexual Network (NYABN).
LGBT Organizations founded: BiNet  Dale McCormick became the first open lesbian elected to a state Senate (she was elected to the Maine Senate).
The red ribbon is first used as a symbol of the campaign against HIV/AIDS.
Althea Garrison was elected as the first transgender state legislator in America, and served one term in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, The Lesbian Avengers was founded in New York City,
Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: Anti-discrimination legislation: US state of Minnesota (gender identity), Ban on gays serving openly in the military established (see Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, repealed 2010).
The Triangle Ball was held. Roberta Achtenberg became the first openly gay or lesbian person to be nominated by a president, by President Bill Clinton, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate when she was appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
Mary C. Morgan became the first openly gay or lesbian judge when she was appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to the San Francisco Municipal Court
Nov The Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act goes into effect as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
Romer vs Evans -US Supreme Court strikes down state constiutional amendment in Colorado preventing recongnition of LGB as a protected glass, Dec 3  Hawaii’s Judge Chang rules that the state does not have a legal right to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry, making Hawaii the first state to recognize that gay and lesbian couples are entitled to the same privileges as heterosexual married couples, US Congress passes the Defense of Marriage Act for federal purposes as the marriage union between one man and one woman.
Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that federal laws banning on-the-job sexual harassment also apply when both parties are the same sex, Oct 6-7 Matthew Shepard is tied to a fence, beaten and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming, Oct 9 Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney from Laramie, Wyoming, make their first court appearance after being arrested for the attempted murder of Matthew Shepard. Eventually, they each receive two life sentences for killing Shepard.
Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: California legalizes same-sex marriage (without adoption, without step adoption until 2001, same-sex marriage in Jun 2008-Nov 2008), The Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that sparked the modern gay-rights movement, is deemed an National Historic Landmark
Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: Passes and Comes into effect: US State of Vermont.
Anti-discrimination legislation: US states of Rhode Island (private sector, gender identity) and Maryland (private sector, sexual orientation). Repeal of Sodomy laws: US state of Arizona,
Anti-discrimination legislation: US states of Alaska (public sector, sexual orientation) and New York (private sector, sexual orientation).
Anti-discrimination legislation: US states of Arizona (public sector, sexual orientation), Kentucky (public sector, sexual orientation and gender identity), Michigan (executive branch of the state government, sexual orientation), New Mexico (private sector, sexual orientation and gender identity), Pennsylvania (public sector, gender identity), Jun 26 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sodomy law, Nov 18 Same-sex marriage was first recognized by a US jurisdiction pursuant to the ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health
Limited Partnership laws: Passed and Comes into effect: New Jersey, Limited Partnership laws: Banning of Same-sex marriage: US states of Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oregon and Utah. Banning of Same-sex marriage and civil unions: US states of Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota.
May 17 Massachusetts is the first state to legalizes same-sex marriage, Anti-discrimination legislation: US States of Indiana (public sector, gender identity), Louisiana (public sector, sexual orientation) and Maine, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon became the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the US, when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom allowed city hall to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: Passes and Comes into effect: US state of Connecticut, Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: US state of California, Banning of Same-sex marriage and civil unions: US states of Kansas and Texas, Anti-discrimination legislation: US States of Illinois (private sector, sexual orientation and gender identity) and Maine (private sector, sexual orientation and gender identity).
Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: US state of New Jersey, Banning of Same-sex marriage and civil unions: US States of Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia,Wisconsin, Anti-discrimination legislation: US States and Districts of Illinois (sexual orientation), New Jersey (private sector, gender identity),Washington (sexual orientation and gender identity) and Washington, D.C. (private sector, gender identity, Voiding of Anti-discrimination legislation: Kentucky.  Springfield, Missouri repeals gay soliciting laws, the US Senate fails to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: Passed:  US state of New Hampshire, Limited Partnership laws: Passed and Comes into effect: US state of Washington, Limited Partnership laws: Comes into effect: US state of Oregon.
Anti-discrimination legislation:  US states of Colorado (private sector, sexual orientation and gender identity), Iowa (private sector, sexual orientation and gender identity), Kansas (public sector, sexual orientation and gender identity), Michigan (public sector, gender identity), Ohio (public sector, sexual orientation and gender identity),Oregon (private sector, sexual orientation and gender identity) and Vermont (private sector, gender identity).
Same-sex marriage laws: Passed and Comes into effect: US states of California (May–Nov 2008) and Connecticut. Banning of Same-sex marriage: US states of Arizona and California, Banning of Same-sex marriage and civil unions: US state of Florida. Banning of Same-sex marriage: US states of Arizona and California, Banning of Same-sex marriage and civil unions: US state of Florida. The first ever U.S. Congressional hearing on discrimination against transgender people in the workplace was held, by the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.
Same-sex marriage laws: Passed and Comes into effect:  US states of Iowa and Vermont. Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: Passed and comes into effect: US states of Nevada and Washington (expansion of previous rights). Limited Partnership laws: Passed and Comes into effect: US states of Colorado and Wisconsin, Abroad Union recognition:  US district of Washington, D.C. Banning of Same-sex marriage: Maine, US state of Delaware prohibites discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, May 26 California Supreme Court upholds  Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in Nov 2008, with a 6–1 vote, Jun 17  President Obama ordered Federal Government extend key benefits to same-sex partners of Federal employees, Jun 29 Hosted the first ever White House LGBT Pride reception, Aug 12 Awarded the hight civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom to Billie Jean King and Harvey Milk, Oct 21 Created the National Resource Center for LGBT Elders, Oct 28  President Obama signs Matthew Shepard Act Anti-discrimination legislation, Dec 12 Washington state voters approve keeping same-sex relationship rights as Domestic Partnerships by 51 percent
Same-sex marriage laws: Comes into effect: US state of New Hampshire (step adoption only) and Washington, D.C.  U.S. state of California, US District Judge Vaughn Walker strikes down California’s Proposition 8 as violative of the United States Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, End to ban of same-sex couple adoption: US states of Arkansas and Florida, Victoria Kolakowski became the first openly transgender judge in America, Phyllis Frye became Texas’s first openly transgender judge, Jan 1 New Hampshire legalizes same-sex marriage, Jan 1 Banned discrimination in Federal workplaces based on gender identity, Jan 4 Lifted the ban that prohibited people with HIV/AIDS from enter the US, Apr 15 Hospital Visitation Presidential Memorandum ensured hospital visitation and medical decision making right or gay and lesbian parents, Jun 9 Allowed transgender Americans to receive gender passports without surgery, Jun 17 Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination memorandum expanding federal benefits for the same-sex partners of Foreign Service and executive branch government employees, Jun 22 Clarified the Family Leave Act to ensure family leave for LGBT employees, Dec 21 President Obama lead a United Nations measure to restore “sexual orientation” to the definition of human rights, Dec 22 Signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”
Same-sex marriage laws: Passed and comes into effect: New York, Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: Passed and comes into effect: US State of Illinois (with joint adoption rights), Rhode Island., Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: Passed: US State of Delaware (comes into effect Jan 2012) and Hawaii (comes into effect Jan 2012).Feb 23 President Obama decided that his administration no longer would enforce the federal Defense of Marriage Act, May 27 Issued guidance to foster safer working environments fro transgender Federal employees, Aug 19 Supported lesbian widow Edith Windsor in her suite against DOMA, Aug 18 Clarified the mean of “family” to include LGBT relationships, helping to protect bi-national families threatened by deportation, Sep 15 Ended the Social Security Administration’s gender “no match” letters, Sep 20 President Obama ends to ban on gay people in the military: (see Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell), Sep 30 Permitted military chaplains to officiate same-sex marriages where legal, Oct 13 Alison Nathan becomes second openly gay appointee to be confirmed to the federal bench in Southern District of New York,Dec 6 President Obama authorizes the US State Department to provide assistance to LGBT defenders and advocates through the US Embassies abroad, Dec 11 Presidential Memorandum on International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of LGBT Persons
Same-sex marriage laws: Passed and comes into effect: U.S. states of Maine and Washington, Same-sex marriage laws:  Passed: U.S. state of Maryland. Civil Union/Registered Partnership laws: Comes into effect: U.S. States of Delaware and Hawaii, Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) became the first openly bisexual person elected to the US Congress. Maine, Maryland, and Washington became the first states to pass same-sex marriage by popular vote, May 9 President Obama became the first U.S. president to publicly announced support for same-sex marriage Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay or lesbian person to be elected to the US Senate, as a Senator for Wisconsin, Jun 18 The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued a regulation to prohibit LGBT discrimination in federally assisted housing programs; the new regulations ensure that the Department’s core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, Sept 4 The Democratic Party becomes the first major U.S. political party in history to publicly support same-sex marriage on a national platform at the Democratic National Convention.
Jan 21  President Obama became the first president to call for full equality for gay Americans, Feb 22  President Obama administration urges U.S. Supreme Court to strike down DOMA, Jun 26 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US will give visa applications of gay and lesbian spouses in the same manner as heterosexual couples, Feb 27 Obama administration filed briefs urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex couples, Jun 28 US Office of Personnel Management extends federal rights and benefits to married gay and lesbian federal employees and their families, Jun 28 California same-sex marriage is legal again, Jul 1 Minnesota and Delaware legalizes same-sex  marriage, Jun 12 The Social Security Administration announced that it would begin accepting benefit claims related to same-sex marriage, Jun 26 Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage in United States v. Windsor U.S. district courts in UtahOklahomaKentuckyVirginiaTexasMichiganOhioIdahoOregonPennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and state courts in Arkansas and Texas, have found state constitutional amendments or statutes banning same-sex marriage to violate the Constitution of the United States, Aug 2 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Announcemens on Visa Changes for Same-Sex Couples, Aug 14 – DOD Announces Same-Sex Spouse Benefits, Aug 29 Treasury and IRS Announce That All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Federal Tax Purposes., Aug 29 Social Security Announces the Processing of claims for same-sex couples, Sept 23 First WH Bi Conference, Sep 24 President Obama’s nominee Todd Hughes, become the nation’s first openly gay federal appeals judge, Oct 21 New Jersey legalizes same-sex marriage., Oct 31 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel  directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau to meet with the adjutants general of nine [of the remaining] states [not in compliance] to resolve the issue of those states denying ID cards to same-sex spouses at National Guard facilities., Oct 13 Hawaii legalizes same-sex marriage., Nov 13 Hawaii governor signs same-sex marriage into law., Nov 20 Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs SB10, authorizing same-sex marriage into law, The U.S. Senate confirmed Nitza Quiñones Alejandro to a federal judgeship, making her the first openly gay Latina to hold such a post, Todd Hughes became the first openly gay U.S. circuit judge
Jan 10 Attorney General Eric Holder recognizes the marriages of more than 1,000 same-sex couples in Utah that took place before the Supreme Court put those unions on hold. Feb 10 Attorney General Eric Holder announced changes within the Justice Department to benefit same-sex married couples such as the option to not testify against their partners, ablilty to file for bankruptcy jointly,  spousal visits and contacts for Federal prison inmates, benefits granted to the survivors of public safety officers who are killed in the line of duty.,  Feb USAID appointed Senior LGBT Coordinator Todd Larson to ensure that the promotion and protection of LGBT rights is fully integrated into all aspects of USAID’s vital work overseas.  ,Mar 14 President Obama’s Judge Staci Michelle Yandle, an openly gay African-American woman, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Jun 19 President Obama’s nominee Judith Ellen Levy was confirmed by the Senate as the first openly lesbian federal judge in Michigan, Jun 19 President Obama’s nominee Darrin P. Gayles becomes the first black, openly gay male judge was appointed to District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Jun 20 President Obama announces a rule that makes legally married same-sex couples eligible for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act in all 50 states. Jun 24 White House Global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Human Rights Forum.Jul 21 – President Obama signs an executive order Monday outlawing anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors and federal employees, Oct 6 Supreme Court declines to intervene in gay marriage cases.Oct 25 Attorney General Holder Announces Federal Government to Recognize Same-Sex Married Couples in Six Additional States
Feb 18 Kate Brown became the first openly bisexual  governor in the U.S.Feb 23  Secretary of State John Kerry announces Randy Berry as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons.Mar 3 Dept of Justice files briefs on health care guidelines, known as “freeze frame” policies, allowing inmates to continue any treatment they were receiving before their arrest but prohibit them from expanding or starting new treatments, Apr 8 A gender-neutral restroom is added to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House. Jun 9 Department of Defense Extends Non-Discrimination Protections for LGB Troops, Jun 23 The Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that sparked the modern gay-rights movement, is deemed an New York state landmark, Jun 26 US Supreme Court rules that marriage equality must be in all 50 states, Jul 9 Attorney General Lynch Announces Federal Marriage Benefits Available to Same-Sex Couples Nationwide, Jul 14 Defense Secretary Carter delivered a statement welcoming transgender persons to serve openly, Aug 18 White House hires openly trans staffer, ep 2 Federal judge  jails defiant county clerk Kim Davis for contempt of court because of her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
 Jan 8 Santa Clara County (California) becomes first nationwide to establish office of LGBTQ affairs, Mar 3 SCOTUS Unanimously Reverses Alabama Court’s Refusal to Recognize Same-Sex Adoption, Mar 31 Federal judge struck down Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples making the practice legal nationwide, US Justice Dept sues NC Governor Pat McCrory,  NC Department of Public Safety, and the University of NC system, alleging that House Bill 2 violates Title VII of the Civil Rights ActTitle IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Violence Against Women Act, Apr 12 President Obama’s administration and US Depart of Education issued guidance for school districts to treat transgender students with dignity in public and federally funded schools, Jun 12 A gunman shot and killed at least 50 and wounded 53 people in  a gay nightclub in Orlando, the incident was the deadliest mass shooting in United States, Jun 24 President Obama Designates Stonewall National Monument, 6/30  US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Lifts Ban on Transgender Service Members , 10/18 Feds win round in legal fight over Obama transgender bathroom policy, 10/26/16 National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at American University on Global LGBTQ Rights 
US Secretary of State John Kerry formally apologized to gay, lesbian and other employees of the State Department who faced past discrimination because of their sexual orientation in the past
Sources:, Human Rights Campaign and

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77 thoughts on “US LGBTQ Rights Timeline 1903-Jan 2017

  1. Friday, June 28, 2013

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    5:00 AM 
    President Obama participates in a “Feed the Future Food Security” event
    Dakar, Senegal

    6:00 AM
    6:15 AM
    President Obama travels to South Africa with the First Family

    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    2:10 PM
    President Obama and The First Family arrive in South Africa.

    3:00 PM
    President Obama meets and greets Embassy personnel.

    President Obama and the First Family attend an official dinner
    Johannesburg, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family overnight in Johannesburg, South Africa

    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
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    10:00 PM

    • POTUS podium

      June 28, 2013



      8:30 AM ET
      “Gang of Seven” Members Speak About Immigration

      9:00 AM ET
      House Committee Oversight and Government Reform
      House Looks Into Lois Lerner and Fifth Amendment Rights
      Darrell Issa

      10:30 AM ET
      U.S. Institute of Peace
      A Look at the Next Generation in Afghanistan
      Andrew Wilder

      12:30 PM ET
      Panel Discusses Arming Syrian Rebels

    • In first, White House hires openly trans staffer

      August 18, 2015 at 9:00 am EDT | by Chris Johnson – washingtonblade

      The White House for the first time has hired an openly transgender person as a member of its staff, LGBT advocates and the Obama administration announced Tuesday.

      Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who formerly served in trans advocacy as policy adviser for the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Racial & Economic Justice Initiative, has been appointed to a senior position in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. She’s set to begin her new role as an outreach and recruitment director in the Presidential Personnel Office on Tuesday.

      Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, welcomed the addition of Freedman-Gurspan to the White House in a statement to the Washington Blade.

      “Raffi Freedman-Gurspan demonstrates the kind of leadership this administration champions,” Jarrett said. “Her commitment to bettering the lives of transgender Americans, particularly transgender people of color and those in poverty, reflects the values of this administration.”

      According to the White House website, the Office of Presidential Personnel oversees the selection process for presidential appointments and works to recruit qualified candidates for service in departments and agencies across the government.

      Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she’s “elated” about the addition of Freedman-Gurspan to the White House staff.

      “That the first transgender appointee is a transgender woman of color is itself significant,” Keisling said. “And that the first White House transgender appointee is a friend is inspiring to me and to countless others who have been touched by Raffi’s advocacy.”

      See more at:

  2. rainbow-flag

    High court strikes down federal marriage provision

    6/26/13 By MARK SHERMAN | Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.

    The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. The vote was 5-4.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.

    Same-sex marriage has been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia. Another 18,000 couples were married in California during a brief period when same-sex unions were legal there.
    The court has yet to release its decision on California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

    “Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways,” Kennedy said.

    “DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he said.

    He was joined by the court’s four liberal justices.

    Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

    Scalia read his dissent aloud. Scalia said the court should not have decided the case.

    But, given that it did, he said, “we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation.”

    • The Supreme Court struck down DOMA. Here’s what you need to know

      6/26/13 By Dylan Matthews, washingtonpost


      What does this mean for gay couples?

      It depends on what area you’re talking about. “What section 3 of DOMA does is that it performs a find and replace of every instance of ‘spouse’ or ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ appears and changes it so that it’s “opposite sex husband” or ‘opposite sex wife’,” says Rita Lin, a partner at Morrison and Foerster in San Francisco who argued Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management, another DOMA case. “The effect is going to vary based on which of the thousand-plus statutes or regulations are affected.”

      There are some clear-cut cases. It seems pretty clear that legally married same-sex couples where one member is employed by the federal government are entitled to spousal benefits, just the same as any other married couple. For other legally married couples who don’t live in states where same-sex marriage is recognized, there’s some question as to whether the “state of celebration” or “state of residence” matters.

      Usually, the former is the standard used, meaning a marriage is valid if it’s valid in the state it was celebrated. That would mean most legally married same-sex couples, regardless of where they got married, are entitled to spousal benefits.

      Other areas, like tax law, may require additional rule-making before same-sex couples are treated equally. “Some operate just based on policy, without getting into a regulation or statute, so those can be modified very quickly,” Tara Borelli, an attorney at Lambda Legal who was also a counsel in Golinski. ”Others require rule-making.” And others require statutory changes. Borelli notes that Social Security will probably have to be changed by Congress for same-sex couples to be treated equally.

      This does open the door for bi-national same-sex couples to be treated equally under the law. That means that comprehensive immigration reform probably need not include a provision specifically tailored to making sure bi-national partners of same-sex couples can get visas automatically, the same as opposite-sex partners. As Paul Smith, a partner at Jenner & Block and arguably the leading gay rights litigator in the country (he won Lawrence v. Texas, overturning state bans on gay sex), told me, “My understanding is that the elimination of DOMA would by itself mean that all bi-national married couples would have the same rights, whether same sex or not.”

      For the entire article:

    • June 26, 2013

      Statement by the President on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

      I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

      This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.

      So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.

      On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.

      The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.

      • May 31, 2013

        Presidential Proclamation — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2013


        – – – – – – –

        For more than two centuries, our Nation has struggled to transform the ideals of liberty and equality from founding promise into lasting reality. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans and their allies have been hard at work on the next great chapter of that history — from the patrons of The Stonewall Inn who sparked a movement to service members who can finally be honest about who they love to brave young people who come out and speak out every day.

        This year, we celebrate LGBT Pride Month at a moment of great hope and progress, recognizing that more needs to be done. Support for LGBT equality is growing, led by a generation which understands that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In the past year, for the first time, voters in multiple States affirmed marriage equality for same-sex couples. State and local governments have taken important steps to provide much-needed protections for transgender Americans.

        My Administration is a proud partner in the journey toward LGBT equality. We extended hate crimes protections to include attacks based on sexual orientation or gender identity and repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We lifted the HIV entry ban and ensured hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients. Together, we have investigated and addressed pervasive bullying faced by LGBT students, prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Federal housing, and extended benefits for same-sex domestic partners. Earlier this year, I signed a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the implementation of any VAWA-funded program. And because LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration is implementing the first-ever Federal strategy to advance equality for LGBT people around the world.

        We have witnessed real and lasting change, but our work is not complete. I continue to support a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well as the Respect for Marriage Act. My Administration continues to implement the Affordable Care Act, which beginning in 2014, prohibits insurers from denying coverage to consumers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which addresses the disparate impact of the HIV epidemic among certain LGBT sub-communities. We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility. I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped.

        NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2013 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

        IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


    • Department of Justice
      Office of Public Affairs

      Wednesday, June 26, 2013

      Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act
      Attorney General Eric Holder today issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act.

      “Today’s historic decision in the case of United States v. Windsor, declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, is an enormous triumph for equal protection under the law for all Americans. The Court’s ruling gives real meaning to the Constitution’s promise of equal protection to all members of our society, regardless of sexual orientation. This decision impacts a broad array of federal laws. At the President’s direction, the Department of Justice will work expeditiously with other Executive Branch agencies to implement the Court’s decision. Despite this momentous victory, our nation’s journey – towards equality, opportunity, and justice for everyone in this country – is far from over. Important, life-changing work remains before us. And, as we move forward in a manner consistent with the Court’s ruling, the Department of Justice is committed to continuing this work, and using every tool and legal authority available to us to combat discrimination and to safeguard the rights of all Americans.”

    • Statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

      Release Date: June 26, 2013

      “I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits. I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution. Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”

    • Hagel: Defense Department Welcomes Supreme Court Decision

      June 26, 2013 American Forces Press Service

      Defense Department officials will move forward in making benefits available to all military spouses, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement issued after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

      The law had prevented federal agencies from offering all of the same benefits to spouses in same-sex marriages that they provide to other spouses.

      Here is the secretary’s statement:

      The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The Department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible. That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do.

      Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country and their qualifications to do so. Today’s ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.

      For more :

    • Stonewall Riots

      The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

      American gays and lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s faced a legal system more anti-homosexual than those of some Warsaw Pact countries. Early homophile groups in the U.S. sought to prove that gay people could be assimilated into society, and they favored non-confrontational education for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. The last years of the 1960s, however, were very contentious, as many social movements were active, including the African American Civil Rights Movement, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and antiwar demonstrations. These influences, along with the liberal environment of Greenwich Village, served as catalysts for the Stonewall riots.

      For the entire Wikipedia article:

    • Court rejects gay rights cases from Ariz., Nev.

      6/27/13 CRISTINA SILVA and MATT WOOLBRIGHT 1 hour ago
      Same-sex marriageArizonaNevada

      PHOENIX (AP) — Gay marriage proponents marked another victory Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from Arizona and Nevada involving the rights of same-sex couples.

      The justices let stand an appeals court ruling striking down an Arizona law that made state employees in same-sex relationships ineligible for domestic partner benefits. The Nevada case was a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The court did not elaborate on the reason for not taking up the cases.

      The court’s decisions on the two cases are not as sweeping as rulings Wednesday that made it a landmark week for gay rights. The Supreme Court issued decisions that struck down a provision that denies federal benefits to married gay couples and also cleared the way for state laws that recognize marriage equality.

      For more:


      House GOP Pushes for Constitutional Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

      June 26, 2013 Matt Vasilogambros, National Journal

      Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, and other conservative members of Congress say they will attempt to introduce in the coming days a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

      Following the Supreme Court’s ruling deeming the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, several Republicans expressed their disappointment with the decision and vowed to take action. Apparently, this means an amendment to the Constitution.

      “This Court has taken it upon itself the radical attempt to redefine marriage,” Huelskamp said, standing outside the Supreme Court. “I think what gets lost in this judicial attempt to short-circuit the democratic process is the needs of our children…. Every child deserves a mommy and a daddy and with this decision they undercut the needs of our children.”

      And although the likelihood of that amendment passing is bleak—amendments need a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress, and then ratification by three-fourths of the states—Huelskamp urges congressional leadership to allow the amendment to go to the floor.

      Reaction from Republicans, however, took a little while to come by, as many of them avoided the topic on Twitter and other social networks in the immediate aftermath of the ruling. However, their reactions were strong once many of those conservatives gathered for a press conference on the Hill. Here are a few quotes:

      “It is a sad day. Some may try to brand us hateful. This is not a hateful group. This is a group that has love and compassion for our country…. What we have today is a holy quintet who goes against the laws of nature.” – Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas

      “Marriage is a fundamental building block of our civilization. It precedes this nation itself. It’s the fiber that keeps our civilization so strong and certainly it’s the ideal model from which we raise children.” – Rep. John Fleming, R-La.

      “I believe that today’s decision will have negative consequences for children who should be raised by a mom and a dad.”– Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa

      “A court decision cannot decide moral questions for the people.” – Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.

      “For the best interest of society itself … we have defined a marriage between a man and woman in the interest of those children…. Society itself is at risk.” – Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich.

      “Marriage has been debased by this decision…. Decisions like this makes the people’s voice muted.”—Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.

      “The Supreme Court seems to be in collusion with the president and his Justice Department…. Unfortunately it’s been at the expense of children.” – Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas

      “The Supreme Court undercut the equal protection of every person who voted for their representative…. Now we have an effective oligarchy of five who decide the most fundamental issues of today.” – Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

    • Obama admin acts quickly post-DOMA

      Fri Jun 28, 2013 4:54 PM EDT By Steve Benen – maddowblog

      After the Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Obama administration officials vowed to move quickly to implement the ruling throughout the federal government.

      And while I believed them, I didn’t realize they’d move this fast (thanks to my colleague Cory Gnazzo for the heads-up). Chris Geidner reports:

      “[T]he United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will now be able to extend benefits to Federal employees and annuitants who have legally married a spouse of the same sex,” OPM acting director Elaine Kaplan writes to the heads of executive departments and agencies today.

      What does this mean in practical terms? The Human Rights Campaign added:

      The United States Office of Personnel Management has begun the process of extending federal rights and benefits to married gay and lesbian federal employees and their families…. Now that the federal government recognizes legally married same-sex couples, federal employees’ spouses and their families may now access health insurance benefits, life insurance, dental and vision insurance and retirement benefits.

      • June 28, 2013

        Statement by the President on the Extension of Federal Employee Benefits

        Today my Administration announced that, for the first time in history, we will be making important federal employee benefits, including healthcare and retirement benefits, available to eligible married gay and lesbian couples and their families.

        This is a critical first step toward implementing this week’s landmark Supreme Court decision declaring that all married couples –gay and straight — should be treated equally under federal law. Thousands of gays and lesbians serve our country every day in the federal government. They, and their spouses and children, deserve the same respect and protection as every other family.

        Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, we will continue to move as quickly as possible to fully implement the Court’s decision.

    • Social Security starts accepting same-sex marriage claims

      7/12/13 03:49 PM ET By Erik Wasson – TheHill

      The Social Security Administration announced Friday that it would begin accepting benefit claims related to same-sex marriage.
      The Supreme Court in June found the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. It ruled that the federal government couldn’t treat same-sex marriages approved by some states any differently than heterosexual marriages.

      The ruling affects more than 1,000 federal regulations on everything from tax breaks to entitlement benefits.

      Prior to the ruling, an individual in a same-sex marriage was unable to claim survivor benefits from Social Security when a spouse died, and a couple was unable to claim a 50-percent Social Security marriage bonus to their retirement benefits.

      “The President has directed the Attorney General to work with other members of his Cabinet to review the recent Supreme Court decision and determine its impact on Federal benefit programs – including benefits administered by Social Security – to ensure that we implement the decision swiftly and smoothly,” Social Security Administration spokesman Mark Hinkle said.

      He said the agency was working with the Justice Department to revise its regulations.

      “We are taking claims now from individuals who believe they may be eligible for Social Security benefits. We will process these claims as soon as we have finalized our instructions,” Hinkle said.

      Read more:

    • Gay Marriage Activists Turn Focus On States That Ban It

      July 29, 2013 4:47 PM by TOVIA SMITH – NPR

      Summary: A federal judge ruled last week that Ohio, which bans gay marriage, must recognize the marriage of two men wed this month in Maryland. The ruling is seen as likely to unleash more lawsuits challenging states that don’t allow same-sex unions to recognize marriages legalized in other states.

      For the entire audio interview:

    • Announcement on Visa Changes for Same-Sex Couples

      John Kerry
      Secretary of State
      U.S. Embassy London
      London, United Kingdom

      August 2, 2013


      “I’m very pleased to be able to announce that effective immediately, when same-sex spouses apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it will consider the application of opposite-sex spouses. And here is exactly what this rule means: If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a non-citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. And if you are in a country that doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage, then your visa application will still be treated equally at every single one of our 222 visa processing centers around the world.

      Now, as long as a marriage has been performed in a jurisdiction that recognizes it so that it is legal, then that marriage is valid under U.S. immigration laws, and every married couple will be treated exactly the same, and that is what we believe is appropriate. Starting next year, that will include same-sex couples from England and Wales, which just this year passed laws permitting same-sex marriage that will take effect in 2014.

      And as you know, more than two years ago, President Obama instructed our Department of Justice to stop enforcing DOMA. Then just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court of the United States declared DOMA unconstitutional. Today, the State Department, which has always been at the forefront of equality in the federal government, I’m proud to say, is tearing down an unjust and an unfair barrier that for too long stood in the way of same-sex families being able to travel as a family to the United States.”

      For the entire transcript:

    • DOD Announces Same-Sex Spouse Benefits

      Aug. 14, 2013 American Forces Press Service

      WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Defense announced its plan to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and Department of Defense civilian employees, according to a DOD news release issued today.

      After a review of the department’s benefit policies following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies, the Defense Department will make spousal and family benefits available no later than Sept. 3, 2013, regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate.

      The DOD remains committed to ensuring that all men and women who serve in the U.S. military, and their families, are treated fairly and equally as the law directs.

      Entitlements such as TRICARE enrollment, basic allowance for housing and family separation allowance are retroactive to the date of the Supreme Court’s decision. Any claims to entitlements before that date will not be granted. For those members married after June 26, 2013, entitlements begin at the date of marriage.

      The DOD recognizes that same-sex military couples who are not stationed in a jurisdiction that permits same-sex marriage would have to travel to another jurisdiction to marry. That is why the department will implement policies to allow military personnel in such a relationship non-chargeable leave for the purpose of travelling to a jurisdiction where such a marriage may occur. This will provide accelerated access to the full range of benefits offered to married military couples throughout the department, and help level the playing field between opposite-sex and same-sex couples seeking to be married.

      For civilian benefits administered government-wide to federal employees, the DOD will follow the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Labor’s guidance to ensure that the same benefits currently available to heterosexual spouses are also available to legally married same-sex spouses.

    • August 29, 2013

      HHS Press Office

      HHS announces first guidance implementing Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act

      Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memo clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives. This is the first guidance issued by HHS in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling, which held section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

      “HHS is working swiftly to implement the Supreme Court’s decision and maximize federal recognition of same-sex spouses in HHS programs,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today’s announcement is the first of many steps that we will be taking over the coming months to clarify the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision and to ensure that gay and lesbian married couples are treated equally under the law.”

      “Today, Medicare is ensuring that all beneficiaries will have equal access to coverage in a nursing home where their spouse lives, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Prior to this, a beneficiary in a same-sex marriage enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan did not have equal access to such coverage and, as a result, could have faced time away from his or her spouse or higher costs because of the way that marriage was defined for this purpose.”

      For more:


        10:02 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2013 By Star-Advertiser staff

        The state Senate, as expected, overwhelmingly approved a marriage equity bill today, sending the measure to Gov. Neil Abercrombie who has vowed to sign it and make Hawaii the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

        Today’s 19-4 vote, while historic, was a somewhat anti-climatic end to the 16-day legislative special session that included more than 55 hours of public testimony, followed by two day-long sessions in the House where lawmakers approved the bill late Friday night in a 30-19 vote.

        “I look forward to signing this significant piece of legislation, which provides marriage equity and fully recognizes and protects religious freedoms,” Abercrombie said in a statement after the Senate vote.

        For more:

      • November 12, 2013

        Statement by the President on Marriage Equality in Hawaii

        I want to congratulate the Hawaii State Legislature on passing legislation in support of marriage equality. With today’s vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger. By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation. I’ve always been proud to have been born in Hawaii, and today’s vote makes me even prouder. And Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those in Hawaii whose families will now be given the security and respect they deserve.

    • US moves to end ban on blood donations by gay men

      FDA moves to ease ban against blood donations by gay men, but restrictions would remain

      12/23/14 Associated Press By Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer

      WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials are recommending an end to the nation’s lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, a 31-year-old policy that many medical groups and gay activists say is no longer justified.

      The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it favors replacing the blanket ban with a new policy barring donations from men who have had man-on-man sex in the previous 12 months. The new policy would put the U.S. in line with other countries including Australia, Japan and the U.K.

      For more:;_ylt=AwrTWVUh2JlUdyIAXbzQtDMD

    • Feb 23, 2015 Secretary of State John Kerry announces Randy Berry as the first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons


      Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons

      Term of Appointment: 04/13/2015 to present

      Randy W. Berry is the U.S. State Department’s first-ever Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons. He arrived in his new post on April 13, 2015. Prior to serving as the Special Envoy, he served as the United States Consul General in Amsterdam. He was United States Consul General in Auckland, New Zealand from 2009 to 2012, and prior to that, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal from 2007 to 2009.

      Mr. Berry’s career with the State Department has also taken him to postings in Bangladesh, Egypt, Uganda (twice), and South Africa, as well as Washington DC. Mr. Berry holds a State Department Superior Honor Award, and is a nine-time Meritorious Honor Award recipient. He speaks Spanish and Arabic.

      Mr. Berry was raised on a family cattle ranch in rural Custer County, Colorado. He is a graduate of Bethany College of Lindsborg, Kansas, and was a Rotary Scholar at the University of Adelaide, South Australia. Before joining the Foreign Service in 1993, Berry worked as an international training manager for America West Airlines in Phoenix, Arizona.

    • With Sweeping New Ruling, Marriage Equality Must Begin in All 50 States

      June 26, 2015 by HRC staff

      In a historic 5-4 ruling, today the Supreme Court of the United States found bans on marriage equality to be unconstitutional—and that the fundamental right to marriage is a fundamental right for all. The majority’s opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, represents a clear mandate for governors, state attorneys general and officials everywhere to cease their attempts to uphold these discriminatory statutes.

      “Today’s ruling makes perfectly clear that there is no legal or moral justification for standing in the path of marriage equality. Couples from Mississippi to North Dakota to Texas shouldn’t have to wait even a moment longer to be treated equally under the law,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “State officials across the country must act swiftly to ensure that every obstacle to obtaining a marriage license is removed. To do anything less is a shameful attempt to cement their state on the wrong side of history. But what’s clear today is that our work isn’t done until every discriminatory law in this nation is wiped away. The time has come in this country for comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination protections. We now have to work harder than ever before to make sure LGBT Americans cannot be fired, evicted or denied services simply on the basis of the marriage license that they fought so hard to achieve.”

      Named plaintiff in the case, Jim Obergefell, also issued the following statement in reaction to the ruling:

      “Today I could not be prouder of my country, more grateful for the memory of my late husband John, and more indebted to the incredible lawyers, advocates and fellow plaintiffs who made this landmark day possible. The fact that the state I have long called home will finally recognize my marriage to the man I honored and cherished for more than 20 years is a profound vindication—a victory I’m proud to share with countless more couples across the country. Thanks to the Supreme Court, a period of deep injustice in this nation is coming to a close, but it’s also clear today that there is still so much work to do. As long as discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is tolerated—whether in the seeking of a marriage license, the pursuit of fairness on the job, or the fight for equal treatment at a restaurant or business—we haven’t truly guaranteed equal justice under the law. But today’s victory proves that anything is possible, and I could not be more hopeful about the capacity of this country to change for the better.”

      For more:

    • June 26, 2015

      Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality

      Rose Garden

      11:14 A.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Our nation was founded on a bedrock principle that we are all created equal. The project of each generation is to bridge the meaning of those founding words with the realities of changing times — a never-ending quest to ensure those words ring true for every single American.

      Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.

      This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law. That all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.

      This decision will end the patchwork system we currently have. It will end the uncertainty hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples face from not knowing whether their marriage, legitimate in the eyes of one state, will remain if they decide to move [to] or even visit another. This ruling will strengthen all of our communities by offering to all loving same-sex couples the dignity of marriage across this great land.

      In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. It is gratifying to see that principle enshrined into law by this decision.

      This ruling is a victory for Jim Obergefell and the other plaintiffs in the case. It’s a victory for gay and lesbian couples who have fought so long for their basic civil rights. It’s a victory for their children, whose families will now be recognized as equal to any other. It’s a victory for the allies and friends and supporters who spent years, even decades, working and praying for change to come.

      And this ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal we are all more free.

      For more:

  3. President Obama’s African Continent Itinerary

    Friday, June 28

    President Obama participates in a “Feed the Future Food Security” event
    Dakar, Senegal

    President Obama travels to South Africa with the First Family

    President Obama and the First Family are welcomed to South Africa
    Centurion, South Africa, Waterkloof Air Base

    President Obama meets and greets Embassy personnel.
    Johannesburg, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family attend an official dinner
    Johannesburg, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family overnight in Johannesburg, South Africa

    • The Story of Barack Obama

      November 16, 2009

      Ambassador Gips, Dr. Mulemfo and ‘The Story of Barack Obama’
      South African author and academic Dr. Mukanda Mabonso Mulemfo who has just published his latest children’s book, ‘The Story of Barack Obama’, visited Abassador Gips at the US Embassy, donating a number of these books to the U.S. Government.


    • South Africans Welcome President Obama

      Published on Jun 21, 2013

      South Africans from coast to coast brief #OBAMAinSA about what to expect on his visit to South Africa

    • Obama Visit to Soweto Seen as Bow to Struggle for Freedom

      Published on Jun 25, 2013

      During his tour of Africa, President Barack Obama plans to address students in the South African suburb of Soweto, the birthplace of the struggle against racial segregation, or apartheid. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas takes a look at Soweto’s history and the promise it holds today.

    • Obama Unsure He’ll See Mandela During South Africa Visit

      Jun 28, 2013 6:59 AM By Julianna Goldman & Roger Runningen – bloomberg

      President Barack Obama says he’s unsure whether he’ll visit the ailing Nelson Mandela and will assess conditions upon arrival later today in South Africa.

      “I don’t need a photo-op, and the last thing I want to do is to be in any way obtrusive at a time when the family is concerned with Nelson Mandela’s condition,” President Obama told reporters traveling with him today en route to South Africa, the second country of a three-nation African tour.

      “We’ll see what the situation is when we land,” he said.

      Obama lands in South Africa tonight and has no public events on his schedule.

      South Africans are maintaining a vigil for Mandela, the nation’s first black president, who’s in critical condition in a Pretoria hospital where he has spent the past three weeks battling a lung infection.

      Obama considers Mandela, 94, a personal hero for his fight against apartheid policies, and credits him with Obama’s own civil rights activism.

      Obama met Mandela once, in 2005, in Washington, when the U.S president was a Democratic senator from Illinois.

      Obama told reporters today that the message he’d deliver to Mandela or his family would be one of “simply profound gratitude for his leadership for all these years.”

      Concern over Mandela’s health heightened after President Jacob Zuma canceled a trip to a regional summit in Mozambique late on June 26. Mandela’s condition improved overnight and was stable, though still critical, the presidency said yesterday.

      Mandela Vigil
      Crowds have gathered outside the hospital to deliver cards and flowers, as well as at Mandela’s homes in Johannesburg and the village of Qunu in the southeast of the country.

      Obama has to maintain a delicate balance in continuing his trip while attention is focused on Mandela’s condition, Daryl Glaser, a politics professor at the University of Witwatersrand, said.

      “Diplomatic life has to go on,” he said in a telephone interview from Johannesburg today. “There was no obviously right thing to do.”

      For more:

  4. US Federal Agents Smash Synthetic Drug Ring

    June 27, 2013 VOA News

    U.S. federal drug agents say they have smashed a designer synthetic drug ring involving 35 states and five countries.

    The Drug Enforcement Administration says since it launched Project Synergy in December, it has arrested more than 75 people and seized nearly $15 million in cash and other assets. Arrest warrants were issued Wednesday for another 150 suspects.

    Authorities say their investigation also uncovered a massive flow of drug-related proceeds to countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart says designer synthetic drugs are destructive, dangerous, and destroy lives.

    Synthetic drugs are composed of chemicals and other ingredients aimed at creating the same effects as naturally derived drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. They are often marketed as herbal incense, bath salts, jewelry cleaner or plant food.

    Users frequently wind up in the hospital suffering from significant organ damage, seizures, hallucinations. Use of the products can lead to death.

  5. 5:00 AM ET
    President Obama participates in a “Feed the Future Food Security” event
    Dakar, Senegal

    • June 28, 2013

      Remarks by President Obama After Food Security Expo

      Radisson Blu
      Dakar, Senegal

      9:52 A.M. GMT

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: As all of you saw, I just had a wonderful opportunity to visit this expo and meet some remarkable men and women who are helping us meet an urgent challenge that affects nearly 900 million people around the world — chronic hunger and the need for long-term food security.

      Now, here in Africa, thanks to the economic progress across the continent, incomes are rising, poverty rates are declining, there’s a growing middle class. At the same time, far too many Africans still endure the daily injustice of extreme poverty and hunger. And we’re here today because improvements in agriculture can make an enormous difference. Now, here in Senegal and across Africa, most people are employed in agriculture. And we know that, compared to other sectors, growth in agriculture is far more effective in reducing poverty, including among women.

      Part of why this work is so important is because if you want broad-based economic growth in a country like Senegal, starting with these small-scale farmers, putting more income into their pockets, ensures that it’s not just a few who are benefitting from development but everybody is benefitting, and it makes an enormous difference.

      So that’s why when I took office, we took a look at new ways that we could provide assistance and partner with countries, and we decided to make food security a priority. We helped mobilize the leading economies around the world on this mission. So this was one of our top priorities at the G8 meetings that I attended very early on in my presidency. In the United States, we launched our new initiative called Feed the Future, which works in partnership with 12 African countries. At the G8 last year we launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. We kicked it off with Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania. It’s already grown by six more countries — Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Benin, Malawi, Mozambique, and Burkina Faso. And I’m very pleased about the next step — Senegal will be joining this year.

      For more:

    • June 28, 2013

      Fact Sheet: Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

      Since coming into office in 2009, President Obama has made global food security a foreign policy priority. At last year’s Camp David G-8 Summit, President Obama joined with other G-8 leaders, African heads of state, the African Union and private sector leaders in launching the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, with an ambitious pledge to lift 50 million people out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa by 2022.

      Over the last year, the President also welcomed the commitment of the American people to food security and improved nutrition — U.S. based non-governmental organizations themselves pledged more than $1 billion over three years in private funding for food security activities globally, and $750 million over five years for nutrition programs, including those aimed at supporting children in the critical 1,000 days from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

      New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

      The New Alliance combines policy reforms, targeted assistance and private sector investments to fuel the growth of Africa’s agriculture economies, link smallholder farmers to markets, increase incomes and improve nutrition. During its first year, private sector companies – small and large, from Africa and around the world – signed letters of intent to invest more than $3.7 billion in New Alliance countries, and the number of countries participating tripled as founding New Alliance partners Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania welcomed first Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Mozambique and then Benin, Malawi, and Nigeria. Each of these countries has negotiated rigorous Country Cooperation Frameworks for accelerating investment that set forth policy reforms, private investment intentions, and donor commitments to align predictable assistance flows behind recipient country priorities. Senegal is slated to join the New Alliance in the fall of 2013.

      For more:

  6. West Wing Week: 06/28/13 or “The Case For Action”

    Published on Jun 27, 2013

    This week, the President gave a major speech on climate change policy, hosted a roundtable discussion with business leaders, named a new director of the FBI, and welcomed the next class of Presidential Innovation Fellows.

  7. What you should know about military allotments


    Today, we announced a public enforcement action against U.S. Bank and Dealer’s Financial Services (DFS). At issue was the way they used the military discretionary allotment system to have servicemembers pay for cars bought through the MILES (Military Installment Loan and Education Services) Program. It’s an important announcement because it shines a spotlight on potential problems with the use of allotments as a way to pay off consumer debt.

    The military discretionary allotment system has been around for a long time. When it was first created, there was no such thing as an automatic bank payment or electronic transfer that servicemembers could set up for themselves from a personal bank account. So, the allotment system was very helpful to military personnel who were worried about getting regular payments to their creditors, especially when they were deployed or on the move.

    Fast-forward to 2013. We now live in a world where bank account holders can easily arrange for other automatic payment methods, for example by setting up an ACH (Automated Clearing House) payment – where the consumer allows the creditor to pull the money owed each month by using the consumer’s bank account and routing numbers – or by asking the bank to send money to a creditor electronically using bill-payment services in online banking. These services are usually free and easy to set up.

    For more:

  8. This map shows that Obama is really, really popular in Africa

    June 28, 2013 at 2:53 By Max Fisher v- washingontpost

    President Obama is currently on a three-country tour of sub-Saharan Africa, a part of the world where he enjoys consistently sky-high favorability ratings – higher even than in Europe,
    according to Gallup data tracking public opinion in more than 100 countries. That data is mapped out above to give you a sense of just how popular Obama is in Africa.

    To be clear, Gallup’s data is from 2011; the company has not yet uploaded its 2012 numbers (I’ve asked for them and will update if they come in). But it appears consistent with other and more recent polls that have long found warm attitudes across the sub-Saharan toward both the United States and Obama. While attitudes toward Obama have cooled a bit since his reelection (more on this below), they remain astronomically high compared to the rest of the world.

    Obama, on his Africa trip, is visiting Senegal, where he enjoys 83 percent support; Tanzania, which reports 70 percent approval; and South Africa, where, despite some smallish but vocal “NO-Bama” protests against his visit, he has 76 percent approval. By contrast, Gallup’s weekly tracking poll says he has only 46 percent approval in the United States. And, as you can see in the above map, he scores much lower in North Africa, where culturally distinct Arab-majority societies are more associated with the Middle East than sub-Saharan Africa.

    Out of the 100-plus countries surveyed by Gallup, Obama is by far the most popular in Ghana, where he received 92 percent approval, exactly double his rating at home.

    For more:

    • d-gilbert-obama-dress
      #PeaceCorps volunteer Deborah Gilbert models her #Obama inspired #African “boubou” … #obamainafrica #obamainsenegal #dakar

  9. Saturday, June 29, 2013

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    3:45 AM
    President Obama and the First Family travel to Pretoria, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family are welcomed to Pretoria, South Africa

    4:00 AM
    President Obama and South African President Zuma hold a bilateral meeting
    Pretoria, South Africa

    5:00 AM
    President Obama and South African President Zuma hold a joint press conference
    Pretoria, South Africa

    6:00 AM
    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    9:30 AM
    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a discussion with students at the Sci Bono Discovery Center and via Google+ page and MTV Base
    Sci Bono Discovery Center, Newton, Gauteng, South Africa

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks
    Sci Bono Discovery Center, Newton, Gauteng, South Africa

    9:45 AM
    President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in an official arrival ceremony
    Union Building, Pretoria, South Africa

    President Barack Obama meet with Nelson Mandela’s family
    Pretoria, South Africa

    First Lady Michelle Obama and South African First Lady Madiba-Zuma have tea together
    Pretoria, South Africa

    9:50 AM
    President Obama hosts a town hall at the University of Johannesburg
    Johannesburg-Soweto Campus, Johannesburg, South Africa

    10:00 AM
    11:00 AM
    11:55 AM
    President Obama meets with the African Union Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
    Soweto, South Africa

    President Obama and the Chairwoman of the African Union hold a bilateral meeting
    Soweto, South Africa

    12:00 PM
    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    President Obama and the First Family attend an official dinner with South African President Zuma
    Pretoria, South Africa

    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

    President Obama and the First Family overnight in Pretoria, South Africa

  10. President Obama’s African Continent Itinerary

    Saturday, June 29

    President Obama and the First Family travel to Pretoria, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family are welcomed to Pretoria, South Africa

    President Obama and South African President Zuma hold a bilateral meeting
    Pretoria, South Africa

    President Obama and South African President Zuma hold a joint press conference
    Pretoria, South Africa

    9:30 AM ET
    President Obama hosts a town hall at the University of Johannesburg
    Johannesburg-Soweto Campus, Johannesburg, South Africa

    President Obama meets with the African Union Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
    Soweto, South Africa

    President Obama and the Chairwoman of the African Union hold a bilateral meeting
    Soweto, South Africa

    First Lady Michelle Obama and South African First Lady Madiba-Zuma have tea together
    Pretoria, South Africa

    First Lady Michelle Obama and South African First Lady Madiba-Zuma visits with the high school
    Sci Bono Discovery Center, Newton, Gauteng, South Africa

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a discussion with students at the Sci Bono Discovery Center and via Google+ page and MTV Base
    Sci Bono Discovery Center, Newton, Gauteng, South Africa

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks
    Sci Bono Discovery Center, Newton, Gauteng, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family attend an official dinner with South African President Zuma
    Pretoria, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family overnight in Pretoria, South Africa

    • June 29, 2013


      Union Building Pretoria, South Africa

      11:57 A.M. SAST

      PRESIDENT ZUMA: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the media — good friends also. Mr. President, let me welcome you, your family, and your delegation to South Africa. This is your second visit to South Africa, and your first as President of the United States. We are delighted to host you.

      Let me also congratulate you on a reelection as President of the United States. Our talks have taken place against the background of the ill health of our beloved former President Nelson Mandela, the founding President of our democracy, who is much loved by our people and the world. I know that he is your personal hero as well, Mr. President.

      The two of you are also bound by history — as the first black Presidents of your respective countries — thus, you both carry the dreams of millions of people in Africa and in the diaspora who were previously oppressed. We continue to pray for Madiba’s good health and wellbeing.

      As we prepare to celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy in April next year, we extend our deepest gratitude to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the United States for solidarity.

      Mr. President, as a student you also participated actively in campaigns against apartheid, especially promoting dismantlement and disinvestment from apartheid South Africa of the investments that had been made in the history by the United States.

      We are pleased to be working with you today with a common goal of expanding trade relations between our two countries. We are in essence shifting from disinvestment to reinvestment in the era of freedom and democracy.

      Mr. President, you are visiting Africa at the right time. Africa is rising. It is the second-fastest growing region after Asia, and has become an attractive for investment, thus the United States’ strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa that you launched last year is well timed to take advantage of this growing market.

      For more:

  11. Remarks of President Barack Obama
    Weekly Address
    The White House

    June 29, 2013

    Hi everybody. A few days ago, I unveiled a new national plan to confront the growing threat of a changing climate.

    Decades of carefully reviewed science tells us our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on the world we leave to our children. Already, we know that the 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15, and that last year was the warmest in American history. And while we know no single weather event is caused solely by climate change, we also know that in a world that’s getting warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by it – more extreme droughts, floods, wildfires, and hurricanes.

    Those who already feel the effects of a changing climate don’t have time to deny it – they’re busy dealing with it. The firefighters who brave longer wildfire seasons. The farmers who see crops wilted one year, and washed away the next. Western families worried about water that’s drying up.

    The cost of these events can be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, lost homes and businesses, and hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency services and disaster relief. And Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction in higher food costs, insurance premiums, and the tab for rebuilding.

    The question is not whether we need to act. The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.

    The national Climate Action Plan I unveiled will cut carbon pollution, protect our country from the impacts of climate change, and lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate.

    To reduce carbon pollution, I’ve directed the Environmental Protection Agency to work with states and businesses to set new standards that put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants. We’ll use more clean energy and waste less energy throughout our economy.

    To prepare Americans for the impacts of climate change we can’t stop, we’ll work with communities to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure to protect our homes and businesses, and withstand more powerful storms.

    And America will lead global efforts to combat the threat of a changing climate by encouraging developing nations to transition to cleaner sources of energy, and by engaging our international partners in this fight – for while we compete for business, we also share a planet. And we must all shoulder the responsibility for its future together.

    For more:

  12. President Obama meets with the African Union Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
    Soweto, South Africa

    • June 29, 2013

      Readout of President Obama’s Meeting with African Union Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

      President Obama met with African Union Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Pretoria, South Africa on Saturday, June 29th. The President congratulated Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma on the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) /African Union, and expressed U.S. commitment to broaden and deepen the U.S. – African Union partnership. President Obama commended the African Union’s leadership on regional peace and security, including its vital work to resolve the conflicts in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, and Mali. The President also underscored the importance of the African Union’s leadership in advancing development and democratic norms across the continent. The leaders also discussed shared interest in empowering women and youth, expanding trade and investment, and creating broad-based prosperity for people across the African continent.

  13. Obama to meet with Nelson Mandela’s family

    6/29/13 6:57 AM EDT By REID J. EPSTEIN – POLITICO44

    President Barack Obama will meet with Nelson Mandela’s family Saturday but won’t visit the ailing former South African president, the White House said.

    Calling the fight against apartheid “a personal inspiration to me,” Obama compared Mandela to George Washington, saying that by relinquishing presidential power voluntarily he made himself an example to the world.

    “Nelson Mandela, I think, was able to recognize that despite how revered he was that part of this transition process was to make sure it was bigger than just one person, even one of the greatest people in history,” Obama said at a Saturday press conference in Pretoria, South Africa. “And what a lesson that is.”

    South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela, 94, remains in “critical but stable” condition. Obama said Mandela “showed what’s possible” to Africa and the world.

    “When a priority is placed on constitutions and rule of law and respect for human dignity and all people are treated equally and we rise above our parochial concern and what Nelson Mandela also stood for is that the recognition of a well being of a country is more important than the well-being of any one person,” Obama said.

    • June 29, 2013


      Sci-Bono Discovery Center Johannesburg, South Africa

      3:50 P.M. SAST

      MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. It is such a pleasure to be here today for this conversation with young people here in South Africa and across America. Let me tell you, I am so excited to listen to you and learn from you. And I’m especially excited for all of you to learn from each other.

      But before we begin, I have to just take a moment to say that our thoughts and prayers are very much with President Mandela, and we will continue to hold him and his family in our hearts.

      Now, I want to start by thanking Sizwe for that very kind introduction and for moderating today’s discussion. I’m thrilled that he could be part of this event, and it’s wonderful to meet you.

      But most of all, I want to thank all of you for joining us here in South Africa and from across the United States of America. As you know, my husband has come here to Africa this week to meet with leaders across this continent about some of the most important issues we face — from ending poverty and hunger, to curing disease, to creating jobs in our global economy.

      And that’s really why I wanted to meet with young people like all of you today. Because all of you are such a vital part of that very conversation, because in the coming years, all of you will be building the businesses, you’ll be making the discoveries and drafting the laws and policies that will move our countries and our world forward for decades to come.

      So now, more than ever before, we need you guys to step up as leaders. We need you to be engaged in the pressing challenges of our time — truly. Because the fact is that both here in South Africa and in the United States, our journeys have always been led by young people just like you.

      For more:

    • Connecting Continents: Join a Google+ Hangout with First Lady Michelle Obama from South Africa

      Kori Schulman June 27, 2013 01:02 PM EDT

      This week, the First Lady is joining President Obama. on an official visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. During the trip, Mrs. Obama will meet with young people across the continent and highlight the power of education.

      On Saturday, June 29th, the First Lady is hosting a special event that will connect young people in South Africa with young people in the U.S. to discuss the importance of education and our shared future — and you can be a part of it. Here’s how:

      * Watch the event live on June 29th at 9:30 a.m. ET on and the White House Google+ page.

      * Use the hashtag #FLOTUSinAfrica on Twitter and Google+ to join the discussion and ask questions

      * Check out the Connecting Continents community on Google+ to continue the conversation

      During this event, in conjunction with MTV Base, an African youth and music TV channel, and Google+, the First Lady and MTV Base VJ Sizwe Dhlomo will join students in South Africa for a virtual discussion with young people in cities around the U.S.

      For more:

    • Connecting Continents: Remarks by the First Lady Michelle Obama

      Published on Jul 1, 2013

      First Lady Michelle Obama kicks off the Connecting Continents Google+ Hangout in Johannesburg, South Africa. June 29, 2013

    • June 29, 2013

      Remarks by President Obama at Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall

      University of Johannesburg-Soweto Johannesburg, South Africa

      3:48 P.M. SAST

      MS. MABUSE: You guys are an amazing crowd. Good afternoon, and welcome to the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus. My name is Nkepile Mabuse and I will be the moderator this afternoon.

      I really do hope that the strong significance and symbolism of what is happening here in Soweto today does not escape you. There really are no two occasions in recent time that have had a more profound impact on the African people than when Nelson Mandela walked out of prison a free man in 1990, and of course, the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

      Now, these two men are politicians and their legacies will be judged by history. But there’s absolutely no doubt that these two developments in history have had a profound impact on the African continent. They have brought hope in Africa, and also began the process of restoring pride and dignity in the African people.

      Now, as I speak to you and as you all know, President Nelson Mandela is lying in hospital, critically ill. The euphoria that engulfed this continent when President Obama was elected is fading, but in this room — look around you — is Africa’s brand new hope. These young people are doing amazing things in their communities. They have already been identified as leaders, and leaders who are committed to serving others and not themselves.

      Exactly 37 years ago this month, young school children here in Soweto braved Apartheid bullets, fighting for freedom. It’s no coincidence that a new generation of young people is here today. And like the ’76 generation, they refuse to conform, but are inspired to transform their world.

      When President Obama launched the Young African Leaders Initiative in 2010, he described them as the Africa that is overlooked. Well, at this moment the world can see and hear you. President Obama will come here, address you and then engage you. We will take a question here in South Africa before we cross to Kenya, Uganda and then Lagos, Nigeria. When the President selects you, please, be proud. Introduce yourselves and ask a short, sharp, smart question. (Laughter.)

      As a fellow African, I really want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping hope alive in Africa. Please join me in welcoming onstage the 44th President of the United States of America Barack Obama. (Applause.)

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Yebo Mzansi! (Applause.) Oh, it is wonderful to be back in South Africa. Everybody have a seat, everybody have a seat. Relax. Yes, I’m excited, too. (Applause.)

      It is wonderful to be here with all these extraordinary young people — young people from across this magnificent country, but also from all across the continent. And I want to give special thanks and special welcome to those who are watching from Nigeria and Uganda and Kenya, a country obviously very close to my heart.

      For more:

  14. President Obama and the First Family attend an official dinner with South African President Zuma
    Pretoria, South Africa

    • June 29, 2013

      Remarks by President Obama in an Exchange of Dinner Toasts

      Union Building Pretoria, South Africa

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, good evening, everyone. President Zuma, Madam Zuma, distinguished guests, thank you for your incredible hospitality. When I was last here, as a Senator, my entourage was a little smaller. (Laughter.) By that I mean no entourage. (Laughter.) The Speaker just helpfully showed me a photograph of me and him from that first visit and pointed out that I had no gray hair in the photo — (laughter) — and that the years had taken their toll.

      I also want to thank President Zuma’s staff for making my staff feel much better, because this is not the first time that a President has come to the podium without notes — (laughter) — that were supposed to be there. And they are greatly relieved that that does not only happen to them. (Laughter.)

      Traveling to South Africa the first time was different because part of the thing about not having an entourage is it meant I could go take walks on the streets of Johannesburg and Soweto and Cape Town. And that’s how you truly get to appreciate a country — the small interactions with shopkeepers or people who were willing to give you some directions. And I’ve never forgotten the beauty of this country, the warmth of its people. And tonight, I am reminded of that again, and Michelle and I can’t thank you enough.

      I will not speak long. I have spoken enough today; I know Michelle hardly agrees. (Laughter.) I will be giving another speech tomorrow about what this nation represents to me and about the future that I believe that we can build together.

      I’m told that there’s a word, a concept, that has come to define the way many South Africans see themselves and each other. And I’m not sure it translates easily into English. But it’s the recognition that, here on Earth, we’re bound together in ways that are sometimes invisible to the eye; that there is a basic oneness to our humanity. It’s the belief that we can only achieve true excellence and our full potential by sharing ourselves with other, by caring for those around us. I believe you call it Ubuntu. (Applause.)

      For more:

  15. Sunday, June 30, 2013

    All Times Eastern

    President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

    President Obama and the First Family travel to Cape Town, South Africa

    3:00 AM
    3:45 AM
    President Obama and the First Family are welcomed to Cape Town, South Africa

    4:00 AM
    5:00 AM
    5:20 AM
    President Obama and the First Family tour Robben Island
    Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa

    6:00 AM
    7:00 AM
    8:00 AM
    9:00 AM
    10:00 AM
    10:20 PM
    President Obama and the First Family visit a community health center event at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center with Archbishop Desmond Tutu
    Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama’s economic team — Valerie Jarrett, Mike Froman, Fred Hochberg, and Raj Shah participate in an event with the private sector
    Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family visit to the community center
    Cape Town, South Africa

    11:00 AM
    12:00 PM
    12:15 PM
    President Obama delivers a speech
    University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family attend an official dinner
    Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family overnight in Cape Town, South Africa

    1:00 PM
    2:00 PM
    3:00 PM
    4:00 PM
    5:00 PM
    6:00 PM
    7:00 PM
    8:00 PM
    9:00 PM
    10:00 PM

  16. President Obama’s African Continent Itinerary

    Sunday, June 30

    President Obama and the First Family travel to Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family are welcomed to Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family tour Robben Island
    Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family visit a community health center event at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center with Archbishop Desmond Tutu
    Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama’s economic team — Valerie Jarrett, Mike Froman, Fred Hochberg, and Raj Shah participate in an event with the private sector
    Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family visit to the community center
    Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama delivers a speech
    University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family attend an official dinner
    Cape Town, South Africa

    President Obama and the First Family overnight in Cape Town, South Africa

    • On Board: Behind the Scenes with the President & The First Lady at Robben Island

      Published on Jul 2, 2013

  17. Sunday talk show tip sheet

    6/28/13 By TAL KOPAN – POLITICO

    “Meet the Press” on NBC
    • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
    • Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.)
    • Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D)

    “Face the Nation” on CBS
    • Davis
    • Ted Olson, plaintiff attorney in California’s Proposition 8 Supreme Court case
    • Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director

    “This Week” on ABC
    • Davis
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
    • Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.)

    “Fox News Sunday” on Fox
    • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
    • Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman, Senate Rules Committee
    • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.)
    • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.)

    “State of the Union” on CNN
    • David Boies, plaintiff attorney in California’s Proposition 8 Supreme Court case
    • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman, House Judiciary Committee
    • Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)

    “Political Capital” on Bloomberg TV
    • Diaz-Balart
    • Cecilia Munoz, director, White House Domestic Policy Council

    “Newsmakers” on C-SPAN
    • Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), chairman, House Homeland Security Committee

    “Al Punto” on Univision
    • Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee

  18. President Obama and the First Family tour Robben Island
    Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa

  19. President Obama and the First Family visit a community health center event at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center with Archbishop Desmond Tutu
    Cape Town, South Africa

    • June 30, 2013

      Remarks by President Obama and Archbishop Tutu After Roundtable Discussion

      Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center Cape Town, South Africa

      5:05 P.M. SAST

      THE PRESIDENT: It is a great pleasure to be here at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center. It is appropriately named after somebody who has done heroic work not only on behalf of peace and justice, and the ending of Apartheid, but also who very early on took on the challenge of HIV/AIDS here in South Africa and around the world. And so I’m so proud to be with my friend again —

      ARCHBISHOP TUTU: Thank you.

      THE PRESIDENT: — who is an unrelenting champion of justice and human dignity.

      South Africa obviously has faced a heavy burden from HIV as well as other diseases — Tuberculosis, most recently. But the great news is that South Africa is now leading the way in caring for its citizens, in paving the way for a brighter future for the South African people and their families, and I am very proud the United States has been such a terrific partner on this issue.

      I was hearing stories from all these incredible folks — some of whom are counselors and outreach workers, some of whom have struggled with HIV/AIDS themselves — and the great news is that, in part because of leadership from people like Archbishop Tutu but also because of the great work of nurses like Sister Iris, or young people like Mbulelo, and wonderful counselors like Lindiwe, what we’ve seen is a reduction of the stigma around testing on HIV/AIDS, greater education around prevention, and what we’ve seen is treatment that allows people to manage HIV and live long and productive lives.

      And a lot of that has to do with the terrific work of the South African people, but the United States has really done wonderful work through the PEPFAR program, started under my predecessor, President Bush, and continued through our administration. We’ve seen more than $3.7 billion in supporting South Africa’s efforts to combat HIV and AIDS.

      Together, we’re investing in building South Africa’s capacity to manage a national response to HIV/AIDS. The South African government is showing leadership up and down the line, and the health minister here has talked about all the initiatives that are taking place. And this center is a wonderful example of that transition. It’s moving from receiving U.S. government support through PEPFAR to now independent funding that continues to secure the health and success of Africa’s next generation.

      And part of what makes this center so successful is it combines not just health advice and testing, and counseling, but it also provides educational opportunities, sports activities, recreational activities so that young people are able to come here without the fear of stigma or potentially running into their parents, and getting honest, smart advice about what they need to do to keep themselves healthy and to ensure that they are not infected by HIV/AIDS.

      So because of the wonderful work that’s being done on the ground, because of the partnership between the United States and South Africa — a model, by the way, that has been duplicated across the continent — we have the possibility of achieving an AIDS-free generation — achieving an AIDS-free generation and making sure that everybody in our human family is able to enjoy their lives and raise families, and succeed in maintaining their health here in Africa and around the world.

      For more:

  20. President Obama’s economic team — Valerie Jarrett, Mike Froman, Fred Hochberg, and Raj Shah participate in an event with the private sector
    Cape Town, South Africa

    • June 30, 2013

      Remarks by President Obama at the University of Cape Town

      Cape Town, South Africa

      6:14 P.M. SAST

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you! (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.) Please, please, everybody have a seat. Hello Cape Town!

      AUDIENCE: Hello!

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thobela. Molweni. Sanibona. Dumelang. Ndaa. Reperile.

      AUDIENCE: Reperile!

      PRESIDENT OBAMA: See, I’ve been practicing. How-zit? (Applause.) Did I leave anybody out? All right, well, I didn’t want to leave anybody out here.

      I want to thank Vice Chancellor Max Price, who’s here, as well as Archbishop Njongonkulu. It’s wonderful to have them in attendance.

      I am so happy to be here today. It is wonderful to see all of these outstanding young people. I just had the honor of going to Robben Island with Michelle and our two daughters this afternoon. And this was my second time; I had the chance to visit back in 2006. But there was something different about bringing my children. And Malia is now 15, Sasha is 12 — and seeing them stand within the walls that once surrounded Nelson Mandela, I knew this was an experience that they would never forget. I knew that they now appreciated a little bit more the sacrifices that Madiba and others had made for freedom.

      But what I also know is that because they’ve had a chance to visit South Africa for a second time now, they also understand that Mandela’s spirit could never be imprisoned — for his legacy is here for all to see. It’s in this auditorium: young people, black, white, Indian, everything in between — (laughter) — living and learning together in a South Africa that is free and at peace.

      Now, obviously, today Madiba’s health weighs heavily on our hearts. And like billions all over the world, I — and the American people — have drawn strength from the example of this extraordinary leader, and the nation that he changed. Nelson Mandela showed us that one man’s courage can move the world. And he calls on us to make choices that reflects not our fears, but our hopes — in our own lives, and in the lives of our communities and our countries. And that’s what I want to speak to all of you about today.

      Some of you may be aware of this, but I actually took my first step into political life because of South Africa. (Applause.) This is true. I was the same age as some of you — 19 years old, my whole life ahead of me. I was going to school on a campus in California — not quite as pretty as this one — (laughter) — but similar. And I must confess I was not always focused on my studies. (Laughter.) There were a lot of distractions. (Laughter.) And I enjoyed those distractions.

      And as the son of an African father and a white American mother, the diversity of America was in my blood, but I had never cared much for politics. I didn’t think it mattered to me. I didn’t think I could make a difference. And like many young people, I thought that cynicism — a certain ironic detachment — was a sign of wisdom and sophistication.

      But then I learned what was happening here in South Africa. And two young men, ANC representatives, came to our college and spoke, and I spent time hearing their stories. And I learned about the courage of those who waged the Defiance Campaign, and the brutality leveled against innocent men, women and children from Sharpeville to Soweto. And I studied the leadership of Luthuli, and the words of Biko, and the example of Madiba, and I knew that while brave people were imprisoned just off these shores on Robben Island, my own government in the United States was not standing on their side. That’s why I got involved in what was known as the divestment movement in the United States.

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